Starting a dog grooming business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The beauty of this business is that you can grow and scale at your own pace. From grooming your friend’s dogs in your home to establishing a fully-fledged dog grooming facility, you are in the driver’s seat.
If you’ve built up enough skills with grooming your own dog and feel ready to take the leap and start your own grooming business, then you are in the right place. Below we have outlined 8 easy steps to get you started on your petpreneurial journey!
How to start a dog grooming business in 8 easy steps.
Step 1: Perform market research.
Before you rush to the store to grab the latest dog grooming gadgets, it’s best to perform market research for your dog grooming business. This will allow you to gather information about the likelihood of your business succeeding in your local area.
Areas to focus on during your market research phase include:
- Demand for dog groomers: Is your local area saturated with dog groomers on every corner? If so, you may find it difficult to break through the noise and establish your business and brand.
- Potential income and expenses: It’s a good idea to reach out to local dog grooming businesses to get a rough idea of profit and losses. How much money are other dog grooming businesses making? Are they undercutting each other's prices and on a ‘race to the bottom’? If so, you may struggle to keep your prices competitive whilst also covering the costs of your expenses.
- Local competition: By researching the local competition, you can better understand how you will market your business to gain a competitive edge. Perhaps you can offer mobile dog grooming services with add-on dog walks? It’s a good idea to determine how you will stand out early on.
- Legal requirements: A lot of states have their own legal requirements for dog grooming businesses that need to be followed. For example, some states require the dog grooming facility to hold a license. You can find this information on your local governmental websites or by setting up an appointment to speak to a representative in person.
With this information in hand, it’s time to hit the streets and start collecting the market analysis. If you are an extrovert and love talking to people or an introvert who prefers to do everything online, there are plenty of market research methods for you to choose from.
Common market research techniques include:
- Online surveys
- In-person interviews
- Focus groups
- Speaking with other dog care professionals such as dog walkers or doggie daycare owners
Step 2: Create a budget.
It can be very easy when starting a new business to get swept up in the excitement and start spending lots of money on all the new and shiny items. But it is essential to put down your wallet and focus on building a budget first.
A budget will help you get an estimate of operating expenses so you can know how much revenue is needed to cover those costs and make a profit.
Items to include in your dog grooming business budget are:
- Rent or mortgage for the facility
- Insurance (liability and property)
- Utilities (water/electricity/internet/phone bills)
- Car payments and insurance for mobile dog groomers
- Equipment (grooming table/brushes/clippers/blow dryer)
- Staff salaries
- Dog grooming business software tools
- Marketing expenses (social media ads/flyers)
- Business licenses and permits
- Business bank account fees
Make a note of the one-off payments, such as equipment, and the continuous expenses, such as insurance, to get a better understanding of the up-front costs compared to your monthly business costs.
Then with the amount of potential income determined in your market research phase, you can see if your income will cover all of your expenses. If not, you can go through your list of expenses and find the items which can be removed.
Step 3: Write a business plan.
Having a detailed business plan is essential if you require outside investors to help with the up-front costs of starting your dog grooming business. Many investors expect to see a detailed business plan before considering investing in a business.
If you plan to remain a solo petpreneur then you are unlikely to need such a detailed document. However, creating a simple one for your eyes only can be a wonderful tool to have in your business.
A business plan is your very own road map to success. It can detail your:
- Choice of business entity
- Growth and scaling tactics
- Marketing strategies
- Current revenue and revenue goals for different stages of your business
- Your budget
- Market research and how you will position your business in the market
- Other services you would like to offer in the future
Try to predict where you would like your business to be in the next year, 3 years, and 5 years. Then use your business plan to detail all of the actions you will take to get there.
Perhaps in year 1 your marketing strategy will include getting referrals from local pet stores but by year 3 you use paid advertising to bring in new customers.
Step 4: Purchase the equipment and supplies.
Once you have your budget in check, you can start making the purchases for your dog grooming business…and there's a lot to buy!
Items you will need to perform your grooming services include:
- A grooming table (either electronic or stationary)
- Bathing station
- Tethers to stop dogs from jumping out of the bath
- Hair blow dryer
- Brushes and combs
- Shampoo and conditioner (including ones for dogs with allergies)
- Dog nail clippers or dog nail grinders
- Dog first aid kit
- Bandanas and bows (because there is nothing cuter than a dog wearing a bandana!)
- Calendar/pet grooming software for scheduling appointments
- Cleaning supplies
Can I start a grooming business in my home?
You can absolutely start a dog grooming business in your home. Your expenses will be much lower than a dog grooming facility because you are already paying for utilities and rent/mortgage.
If you do become a dog groomer at home, you may want to purchase a foam pad to kneel on. This will make it more comfortable if you have to kneel down to wash the dogs in your bathtub.
Step 5: Apply for the business’ legal documentation.
The legal requirements of your dog grooming business will be dependent on where you open your business. But the majority of dog grooming business owners require the below legal documents. These will also be required for at-home dog grooming businesses.
1. Business license.
Before you apply for your business license, you need to consider what type of business entity you would like to create. It’s a good idea to discuss each with your accountant to get an understanding of the tax implications for each.
Common types of business entities to choose from include:
- Sole proprietorships
You can apply for your business license through your local government; either online or in person.
Many states also require dog grooming facilities to be licensed to ensure the welfare of the animals. It’s important to ensure you have all the necessary licenses and permits on both the local and state levels before opening your doors.
In addition, your dog grooming business may also need to follow the local zoning regulations in your area. These are requirements dictating how the business’ property can be used. For example, there may be a limit to how many dogs are allowed on the property.
2. Tax numbers.
With your business license in hand, you can head over to the IRS’s website to apply for your business’ tax identification number. This is to ensure you are collecting and remitting the correct amount of taxes on both the state and federal levels. Be sure to check with your accountant if in doubt about which type of tax identification number your business will need.
It is very important to have the necessary insurance for your new dog grooming business to give you the peace of mind that you are personally and professionally covered.
- Liability insurance: Will cover you in events where you are being sued. This could be due to a dog being injured while in your care.
- Property insurance: Will cover any damages or losses to your business as a result of your property being destroyed.
- Car insurance: If you have a mobile dog grooming business, you’ll need to ensure your car insurance covers commercial use.
4. Organizational documentation.
When you begin grooming other people’s dogs, it’s a good idea to have certain legal documents in place before you commence the work. These will include liability waivers and contracts.
If you use a pet business software tool, such as PetExec, your customers will be prompted to sign these documents as soon as they create their accounts. This will give you peace of mind that you are covered before starting any work.
What qualifications do you need to start a dog grooming business?
There are no official qualifications that dog groomers need to have before they open their business. However, it’s a good idea to be knowledgeable about different types of dog hair and coats so you can effectively service your clients’ pets.
There is an option to become certified by, and a member of the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA). This could help you set your business apart from the competition.
To hone your dog grooming skills you can:
- Take an online course: There are lots of online courses you can take to learn how to be a dog groomer. They teach about the different grooming styles of certain breeds and which type of comb is best for the different areas of a dog’s coat.
- Dog grooming classes: You can search online to find a dog grooming school in your local area that you can attend to get some hands-on training.
- Volunteer: To gain more experience you can also volunteer or work part-time at your local dog grooming facility. This will give you more exposure to lots of different breeds and help you build rapport with pet owners in the community.
- Groom dogs for free: If you are brand new to dog grooming and have only ever groomed your own dog, you could consider grooming some dogs for free. This will allow you to build up your skills until you are confident enough to start charging for your services.
Step 6: Address health & safety requirements for dog grooming.
Now you have all the legal documents for your business, it’s time to address the health and safety requirements. Many states require your dog grooming business to be licensed and adhere to these requirements.
Types of dog grooming business license requirements include:
- Only using a tethering device with a quick-release feature
- Ensuring all animal holding areas are large enough for the pets to stand up, turn around and lie down
- Having a member of staff present at all times when a dog is being cared for
- Sanitizing all equipment, such as brushes and combs, between uses on different animals
The health and safety requirements will vary depending on your location so be sure to check your local governmental website to see which requirements your dog grooming business must follow.
Step 7: Create a grooming business marketing plan.
Once you have opened your doors for business, it’s time to start marketing your business. Put simply, marketing your business is the process by which you will attract potential pet owners to your dog grooming services.
You can have all the legal documents in hand and be the most skilled dog groomer in your local area, but unless people know about your business, you won’t get any customers.
There are lots of ways you can promote your dog grooming business. Creating a marketing plan will help you focus your attention on a few areas to prevent you from being overwhelmed by all the choices.
Different types of marketing you can perform include:
- Putting your business on Google so it shows up when people search for a dog groomer in their area
- Using online advertising such as Google and social media ads
- Creating a social media page and regularly posting engaging content such as ‘before and after’ photos
- Posting flyers in local pet stores and veterinarian clinics
- Posting about your services in local Facebook groups
- Asking existing clients to spread the word about your services
- Offering promos and discounts to attract new customers
- Offering loyalty programs to attract and retain loyal customers. Using a pet grooming software tool, such as PetExec, which already has this built-in feature.
Step 8: Create a grooming operations plan.
The final step in setting up your dog grooming business includes creating a plan of operation. This will focus on the actions you will be taking to help your business run smoothly and scale effectively.
Consider what actions you will be performing daily, monthly, and yearly.
Actions to have in your operations plan include:
- A dog grooming schedule: How many dogs will you groom per day and who will be performing these services?
- A cleaning schedule: What time of the day will you perform the cleaning duties and how often do you need to perform deep cleans?
- Financial accounting: How will you record your income and expenses and who will be responsible for the bookkeeping?
- Payments: How will you collect your payments? Will you offer credit card payments?
- Marketing: When will you perform the actions of the marketing plan you created in step 7?
- Appointment reminders: How many days prior to their appointment will you send a reminder to your customers to avoid no-shows?
Why choose PetExec for your future dog grooming business?
Now that you have a good understanding of your next steps with starting your pet grooming business, it’s a good idea to consider a dog grooming software tool.
PetExec is a pet business software tool that allows you to look after all of the administrative tasks of your growing business. From client contracts to integrating with QuickBooks, PetExec can help you and your business hit the ground running!
Pet business software reviews.
PetExec has countless positive reviews online from many satisfied customers.
Starting your own dog grooming business can be simple if you follow all of the necessary steps one by one. It may feel overwhelming at times but go at your own pace and focus on one action at a time. Before you know it, your business will be up and running and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your entrepreneurial dreams.